"Connecting Communities for COVID19 News" 19th Aug 2020

Isolation Tips
Pandemic-related depression rises among young Britons, finds ONS
The coronavirus pandemic is severely debilitating the mental health of young Britons as cases of depression are on the rise, official figures show. About one in five adults in Great Britain experienced either moderate or severe depressive symptoms in June this year, almost double the level recorded before the pandemic, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed on Tuesday. The increase was more dramatic for people aged between 16 and 34, with one-third experiencing symptoms in June, compared with one in nine before the virus. “Young people across the UK have had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic,” said Tom Madders, of mental health charity YoungMinds. “Almost every young person has had to adjust to dramatic changes in their education or employment, routine and home life. Many will have struggled to cope with social isolation, anxiety, a loss of structure and fears about their future.”
Mental health services critical part of COVID-19 response, PAHO director says
Countries in the Americas should expand and invest in mental health services to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa Etienne said today. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a mental health crisis in our region at a scale we've never seen before. It's a perfect storm in every country, as we see growing needs and reduced resources to address them. It is urgent that mental health support is considered a critical component of the pandemic response,” she said. “Mental health and domestic violence services are essential services, and we must place emphasis on addressing the gaps that have been laid bare by the pandemic. Today, I ask countries to take the steps required to ensure everyone can receive the care they need and deserve,” Etienne told a press briefing.
Ottawa Public Health provides mental health tips for isolated residents
As COVID-19 changes the way we interact with the world, Ottawa Public Health is emphasizing the importance of sticking to one’s social bubble of 10 to reduce transmission of the virus. “That’s the key part for this to work. It’s not, ‘I’m part of this bubble today and tomorrow I’m part of another bubble,’” Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health Dr. Brent Moloughney told reporters on Aug. 5. “Then the 10 becomes 20, becomes 30, becomes 40, and just becomes an opportunity for increased transmission.” “The issue is that there’s a reciprocity. There is an agreement amongst all the people in a particular circle that they are only going to treat each other in that way. You can’t belong to more than one circle,” he said.
Family mental health crisis: Parental depression, anxiety during COVID-19 will affect kids too
In our current studies, we report that pregnant mothers and those with young children are experiencing three- to five-fold increases in self-reported anxiety and depression symptoms. A history of mental illness, current domestic conflict and financial stress were associated with worse mental health across multiple child age groups. These figures are especially concerning because young children are highly vulnerable to maternal mental illness due to their near total reliance on caregivers to meet basic health and safety needs.
Dreading A Pandemic Winter? Some Tips On How I Survived The Isolation Of Arctic Life.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was suddenly alone at home with only an 11-month-old baby for company as my husband, a pilot, transported medical equipment abroad. Playdates, music classes, grandparents’ visits and all the other community supports I relied on disappeared over the course of a weekend. As provinces gradually reopen, many anxiously weigh the pros and cons of resuming life as we once knew it — hosting small family gatherings, exploring the outdoors, perhaps even sitting on restaurant patios. But with August already midway, it’s hard to shake the feeling that this summertime reprieve is nearing its end.
Hygiene Helpers
Wearing a mask helps stop Covid-19 spreading, study confirms
Wearing a face covering lowers the risk of spreading Covid-19 to others through speaking and coughing, new research suggests. Speaking and coughing without face protection exposes people nearby to droplets carrying the virus that could otherwise be stopped by wearing a mask, according to the study. Researchers found someone standing two metres from a coughing person with no mask is exposed to 10,000 times more droplets than someone half a metre from someone coughing and wearing a covering. Lead researcher Dr Ignazio Maria Viola, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, said: ‘We knew face masks of various materials are effective to a different extent in filtering small droplets.
COVID-19 linked to increase in type 1 diabetes in children
A new study suggests there could be a link between COVID-19 and the development of type 1 diabetes in children. Thirty children in hospitals across north-west London presented with new-onset type 1 diabetes during the peak of the pandemic, approximately double the number of cases typically seen in this period in previous years, with clusters of cases in two of these hospitals. Twenty-one children were tested for COVID-19 or had antibody tests to see whether they had previously been exposed to the virus. A total of five children with newly diagnosed diabetes had evidence of past or current coronavirus infection.
Coronavirus digest: Younger people driving COVID-19 spread, says WHO
The proportion of people aged under 50 who are infected with the coronavirus is growing globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. "The epidemic is changing," WHO's Western Pacific regional director, Takeshi Kasai, told a virtual briefing. "People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are increasingly driving the spread." He said many of them were not aware they were infected, increasing the risk of their infecting vulnerable people, such as the elderly or those with medical conditions that put them in greater danger of contracting a severe form of COVID-19. The WHO also warned drugmakers to take all due precautions and carry out all the prescribed research and development steps when producing vaccines against the disease.
COVID-19 Response Team key as MSU reopens campus amid pandemic
As in-person classes resumed Monday, the university launched a new resource on the campus: The COVID-19 Response Team. "This team will be response for our on-the-ground work related to the coronavirus," said MSU President Clif Smart. Students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed are to contact the team at COVID19@MissouriState.edu
Community Activities
£5m to tackle loneliness, improve wellbeing and recovery from COVID-19
Funding of £5m has been awarded to The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) to help maintain people’s health and wellbeing following the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will go towards supporting local community partnerships, encouraging innovation, and improving the evidence base for social prescribing. Some of the wellbeing projects will include football to support mental health, art for dementia, improving green spaces, and singing to improve the effects of COVID-19. Working with partners, including the Arts Council England, Natural England, Money and Pensions Service, NHS Charities Together, Sport England and NHS England, the academy will support a range of local community activities.
Coronavirus: Ten African innovations to help tackle Covid-19
As Africa passes more than a million confirmed Covid-19 cases, innovators on the continent have responded to the challenges of the pandemic with a wide range of creative inventions. Here are 10 we've picked out.
Working Remotely
Zoopla names Birmingham as the best UK location for remote working
Zoopla, the UK’s most comprehensive property destination, reveals the best locations for remote working by analysing the average internet speed, number of people working from home, number of cafés, and average property price across the UK. The different towns and cities were each given a total score out of 100 based on these metrics to reveal the best locations.
How much of Europe's work can be done from home?
COVID-19 has seen a dramatic increase in teleworking across the world. A new report has found that higher-paid occupations are more suited to remote working. This is causing a new divide between those who can work from home and those who can't.
Why video conferencing solutions are here to stay
During the ten years from 2008 to 2018, the number of people working from home for their main job increased by a staggering 74%1. Despite this, in a pre-Covid-19 world (which seems a distant memory) it was reported that only around 30%2 had ever worked from home. Since the recent pandemic, the accelerated change in working patterns within the last four months has been unprecedented.
Teachers With COVID-19 Health Risks: Who Gets to Stay Home?
As school buildings in some states begin to reopen in various capacities, many teachers who are at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19 are hoping they won’t have to go back. But there are big questions around who qualifies for a medical exemption from returning to the physical classroom. People who are older than 65 are at higher risk for serious illness due to COVID-19, as are those who are obese, have serious heart conditions, or have Type II diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that people who have immune deficiencies, have asthma, have Type I diabetes, are smokers, or are pregnant might also be at increased risk for serious illness, although the evidence is more limited.
Office rents tumble as leading firms back homeworking
London office rents are projected to fall by 40% before hitting their bottom level, as rental values slide because of stalled deals, increasing vacancy and lease breaks. According to global membership body the Society of Industrial & Office Realtors (SIOR), leasing activity in the capital has fallen by 57 percentage points compared with the previous quarter. The largest declines in rents have occurred in some of London’s most well-to-do areas, such as Mayfair (-8%) and Soho (-8%). Industry experts said the trends were producing a shift in power in commercial property world. “This sudden increase in availability is already prompting a swing in the balance of power back towards the tenant,” SIOR Europe president-elect Paul Danks said.
FEATURE: Digital nomads riding out coronavirus pandemic in a van in Japan
A free-spirited American couple with the guts to pack up and go on a moment's notice is discovering how crucial skills like agility, flexibility and resilience are in extraordinary times like these. Liezl Van Riper, 44, and her husband Viet Nguyen, 49, took their kids out of school last fall to let them learn some life lessons on the road, their motivating mantra that spontaneous travel is the most valuable type of travel.
Virtual Classrooms
'They put us all in danger': UNC-Chapel Hill students outraged after quick shift to virtual learning
As University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill students scrambled on Tuesday to move out of their dorm rooms, make decisions about their academic futures and demand tuition refunds, they had one message for administrators. We told you so. “Everybody told the university not to reopen, and it was only a matter of time,” said Nikhil Rao, a student government senior adviser who has participated in online meetings with provost Bob Blouin every month since April along with other student leaders. “I would be shocked if I didn’t know this was going to happen.
Michigan State University Switches To Remote Learning: Here Are The Latest College Coronavirus Updates
A number of institutions of higher learning are already dealing with dangerous and disruptive coronavirus outbreaks shortly after reopening for in-person classes, with three large universities abruptly switching to remote learning this week.
Fauci says virtual classrooms better in parts of country hard hit by COVID-19
Easing in with virtual classrooms would be better in parts of the country that have a coronavirus infection positivity rate of more than 10%, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious diseases expert, said on Tuesday. Fauci said that the default position should be to try and reopen schools for the psychological health of children, but added that a unilateral approach to reopening schools could not be taken. “To make a statement on one side vs the other and take the country as a whole won’t work — we’re so heterogeneous with the infections,” Fauci said in a virtual conference hosted by health information website Healthline. Some U.S. schools have closed almost as quickly as they welcomed back students as the nation tries to reopen while the level of new cases per day remains high in many states.
Coronavirus today: Another $100 million devoted to broadband access for schools, governor hopeful on case trend
Governor Hutchinson took his daily coronavirus briefing to Blytheville today. He touted expanded spending on broadband access. He announced the Legislative Council had approved an additional $100 million in spending on expanding broadband access in rural areas, on top of $24 million dedicated previously. He said Earle was the latest city to get a grant — of $1.8 million. And he said 380 WiFi “hotspots” had been distributed for schools in Mississippi County. He said he was hopeful that schools could continue in regular classrooms, but he hoped the state would be prepared to be sure access was equal for all students if events force schools to switch the virtual classes.
How to Navigate Online College Classes as a Student With Disabilities
Brian Flatley, associate director for the Student Access Office at Adelphi University in New York, says the support offered there “didn’t really change, however the method of support did change” during the spring semester. Flatley points to closed captions and transcriptions for online lectures, software that takes notes from audio recordings, and technology that describes graphics, charts and other elements to the visually impaired as examples of accommodations provided to students at Adelphi last spring when classes went fully online.
Public Policies
WHO urges global coordination of vaccine rollout, notes COVID in Caribbean
At a media briefing today, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, reviewed earlier logistical challenges in rolling out diagnostic tests and personal protective equipment (PPE) and said a key lesson learned was that though people want to protect their countries first, the response has to be a collective one. "This is not charity, we have learned the hard way that the fastest way to end this pandemic and to reopen economies is to start by protecting the highest risk populations everywhere, rather than the entire populations of just some countries," he said, adding that sharing supplies strategically and globally is in each country's interest. "No one is safe until everyone is safe." Once a vaccine is available, the WHO's strategic group of advisors will make recommendations, which will likely cover two phases. In phase 1, doses will be allocated proportionally to reduce overall risk, covering about 20% of the population to include high-risk groups in an effort to stabilize health systems and rebuild economies. For phase 2, considerations will be based on a country's threat and vulnerability.
UK to ramp up household coronavirus testing
Free coronavirus tests will be offered to more people to get a better idea of how many are infected at any one time. The Office for National Statistics' Infection Survey will test 150,000 people a fortnight in England by October, up from 28,000 now. The survey is separate from the mass testing programme of people with symptoms, as it aims to take a random sample of the general population. More data will also be gathered in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The survey aims to help the government identify emerging outbreaks and stamp them out. The infection survey is the most accurate indicator of infection levels in the community.
First Covid-19 vaccine trial moving at a good clip, but officials still "very concerned"
The first coronavirus vaccine trial in the US is moving along at a good clip, but needs more minorities to enroll if it is to succeed, officials tell CNN. While Black people and Latinos account for more than 50% of Covid-19 cases nationwide, so far they make up only about 15% of participants in the nation's first large-scale clinical trial to test out a coronavirus vaccine, according to data obtained by CNN from a government official. That could potentially delay a vaccine from getting to the marketplace.
Sweden's Covid-19 strategist under fire over herd immunity emails
Sweden’s light-touch approach to Covid-19 has come under renewed criticism after emails show the country’s chief epidemiologist appearing to ask whether a higher death rate among older people might be acceptable if it led to faster herd immunity. Speculation about the views of Sweden’s leading public health officials was further fanned after it also emerged that Anders Tegnell, the architect of the country’s no-lockdown strategy, had deleted some of his emails. Tegnell has repeatedly insisted the government’s objective was not to achieve rapid herd immunity but rather to slow the spread of the coronavirus enough for health services to be able to cope. However, email exchanges obtained by Swedish journalists under freedom of information laws show Tegnell discussing herd immunity as an objective in mid-March, days after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic.
Championing BAME health tech innovators is key in the fight against COVID-19
In June 2020, the NHS joined by NHS England’s Chair, David Prior, hosted a meeting with 240 BAME staff network and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion leads, system leaders and advocates. The session was created to discuss how to enable the role of BAME network representatives as powerful vehicles for change in the NHS and across the healthcare system more widely. Concrete solutions can bridge the healthcare gaps and mobilise BAME innovators to initiate real change with wide-reaching impact. These include BAME-focused initiatives, such as the pledge for ‘Diversity and Innovation – a celebration of BAME innovators and our pledges to do more’ led by the Academic Health Science Network last year. With this pledge, industry leaders recognise their role in championing and developing diversity within the NHS innovation pipeline.
Australia could be 'split in two' if Victoria and New South Wales follow the suppression strategy
Australia could be a country "split in two" if both Victoria and New South Wales commit to suppressing its coronavirus infections during the pandemic, while the rest of the nation thrives on elimination. Tony Blakely, a Professorial Fellow in Epidemiology at the University of Melbourne, told 9news.com.au the country could be divided, considering state leaders have articulated borders would remain closed to both New South Wales and Victoria until community transmission is wiped out completely. The Queensland government has been particularly vocal about its keeping borders tightly closed to the two states until community transmission is eliminated.
Resurgence of covid-19 in Japan
Japan has seen a resurgence of covid-19, and the effective reproduction number has been above 1 for two months. The daily confirmed cases reached nearly 2000 in early August.1. Since the start of the pandemic the country has focused on controlling clusters of more than five covid-19 cases and preventing environmental transmission in the “3Cs”: closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact settings.2 Initially, early detection of clusters and investigation of linkages between clusters helped reduce the spread of infection. But it couldn’t prevent the surge in incidence that began around mid-March. The declaration of a state of emergency in April helped control the pandemic’s trajectory,3 although the measures lacked legal authority and depended on citizens’ self-restraint. The state of emergency was lifted in late May. Failings in the government’s early handling of the crisis have exacerbated the pandemic’s overall effect and resulted in 8.22 covid-19 deaths per million people: the third highest rate in the Western Pacific region after Philippines and Australia.1
Coronavirus: How many Covid-19 deaths is India missing?
India has registered more than 50,000 Covid-19 deaths, overtaking the UK to become the fourth-worst-affected country for fatalities. But the number of deaths per million people stands at 34 - far lower than what has been reported in Europe or North America. The case fatality rate or CFR, which measures deaths among Covid-19 patients, is just around 2%. Even in badly-hit state like Maharashtra the number of deaths is doubling only in about 40 days. "The death rates have kept low all along, even as cases rose," K Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India think tank, told me. Many epidemiologists attribute this relatively low fatality rate to a young population - the elderly are typically more vulnerable. It is not clear whether other factors, such as immunity deriving from previous infections from other coronaviruses, are also responsible. Also, they point to a pattern of low mortality in South Asian countries that share a similar demographic of a younger population: reported Covid-19 deaths per million are 22 in Bangladesh and 28 in Pakistan.
Maintaining Services
Perthshire Covid-19 cases will put scientific case for reopening schools under extra scrutiny
A headteachers group leader says Covid-19 cases in two Perthshire schools must be closely monitored to ensure the scientific justification for reopening schools was correct. Greg Dempster, general secretary of the Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland, said any transmission within schools should lead to reconsideration of the basis for reopening full-time. Two pupils, one at Oakbank Primary School, in Perth, and another at Newhill Primary School, Blairgowrie, have tested positive for coronavirus and are isolating at home with their families. Perth and Kinross Council and NHS Tayside have said there is currently no evidence of Covid-19 transmission within either of the Perthshire schools, which remain open.
2020: The healthcare revolution with patients at the centre
As a digital healthcare provider that provides NHS services to millions of patients across England, Livi believes that a patient-centred approach is the only way forward. We work with clinical commissioning groups across the country, building regional partnerships to deliver primary care services at the touch of a button. But we do more than this. We’ve seen that joining up digital platforms beyond primary care - such as with urgent care, mental health or through integrating with 111 - means patients receive more tailored, personalised care. We’re also working with Trusts to enable patients to directly book First Contact Physio appointments and have launched a national video pharmacist service for cancer patients in partnership with Boots and Macmillan Cancer Support.
'I'm very anxious about getting back to work'
"I'm very anxious... anxious about catching Covid," says Kate Skoczylas. She is one of thousands of extremely clinically vulnerable people who have been shielding due to their health, and face a return to work in the autumn. Kate, 56, works for her local museums service, and had been about to return to work after undergoing cancer treatment when the first UK lockdown began in March. Kate, and millions of other vulnerable people, were initially told to not go outside, and to self-isolate, to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus. This guidance was gradually relaxed, and in August the government told extremely vulnerable people that they no longer needed to shield in England.
Healthcare Innovations
The Key To Treating Covid-19 Could Be In The Nose
The nose is a key entry point for the virus – a new study suggests targeting it could result in more effective treatments
Female-led countries handled coronavirus better, study suggests
Countries led by women had “systematically and significantly better” Covid-19 outcomes, research appears to show, locking down earlier and suffering half as many deaths on average as those led by men. The relative early success of leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen and Finland’s Sanna Marin has so far attracted many headlines but little academic attention. The analysis of 194 countries, published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and the World Economic Forum, suggests the difference is real and “may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses” adopted by female leaders.
COVID-19 danger may rise in dry weather, 'provocative' study shows
During Sydney's COVID-19 surge in March and April, something curious happened. On days when the air was dry, more people seemed to catch the virus. When the city's air was more humid, fewer people caught it. That's no coincidence, the authors of a new study say. Dry air increases the coronavirus' ability to spread, they argue.
New hyper-infectious coronavirus strain may be 'a good thing', says disease expert
A strain of the novel coronavirus spreading across large parts of the globe may be ten times more infectious but less deadly, a top disease expert has said. President-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, Paul Tambyah, has said evidence suggests the proliferation of the D614G mutation in some parts of the world has coincided with a drop in death rates. He said this could mean the new strain, increasingly found in Europe, North America and parts of Asia, is less lethal.
G42 Healthcare introduces wearable technology to COVID-19 vaccine trial
G42 Healthcare has announced a volunteer healthcare management programme with US wearable technology firm WHOOP to monitor the health and fitness of those taking part in the company’s COVID-19 vaccine trials. Volunteers participating in the world’s first Phase III trials of the COVID-19 vaccine are being offered the WHOOP Strap 3.0 fitness tracker in order to measure key biometrics during the process. Dubbed “Whoop4Humanity”, the initiative will allow volunteers to check parameters such as heart rate, respiratory rate, heart rate variability, and sleep performance.
Third of midwives who had Covid-19 'were asymptomatic'
A third of maternity care workers who contracted coronavirus may have experienced no discernible symptoms, a study by UK researchers suggests. Their research found that one in six maternity health workers they tested had been infected with Covid-19, of whom one in three were completely asymptomatic. Worryingly, the researchers said that 58% of those who tested positive never met the government's criteria for self-isolation, and, therefore, did not self-isolate and continued to work as normal in their hospital. Their study follows an earlier study suggesting that over 40% of people infected with coronavirus may display no symptoms.